04/01/2014 AT 3:00 PM ET
Kellie Pickler has a confession: She hasn’t really had the chance to put the ‘sin’ in Sin City.
“I’ve never been able to go to Vegas and be a tourist,” she tells PEOPLE. “Every time I go, I never get to go and play. I hope to get to do that soon – just go and watch a show.”
Hopefully that’ll be the case this weekend, when the songstress attends the ACM Awards with husband Kyle Jacobs, who’s nominated for single record of the year for producing Lee Brice’s “I Drive Your Truck.” “I’m a huge fan of the song,” she shares. “I remember Kyle playing it for me when he first found that song for Lee, and I was like, ‘This is going to be a big song.’ So I’ll definitely be in his corner [on Sunday].”
Growing up, “I remember watching the ACM Awards on TV,” she recalls. “I’ve always been a fan, and thought, ‘Wow, that would be amazing to be able to share the stage with my favorite country singers.’ Fast forward down the road and it’s crazy to think that I’m blessed to be able to do that now!”
And “of course the first time you go to the ACMs is exciting, the best – your most memorable.” But what strikes her about the show, year after year, is how “everybody is very supportive of each other,” she says. “Everyone in country music is close in some way, because we are such a small community – it’s very family. Everybody pulls for each other, and you’re happy for anyone that wins. You’re just excited to be there, to be a part of it – a part of something special.”
Pickler hadn’t yet picked a dress for the big night when we spoke to her while she was promoting Rockin’ Refuel protein beverages (she’s a spokesperson) and had recently returned from her seventh USO tour, this time to Afghanistan and Kuwait. But she was also busy celebrating – her new single, “Closer to Nowhere,” hit country radio.
“It’s a love song about hitting the road with your significant other and getting away from the craziness of each other,” she explains. Hmm sounds like just the opposite of Vegas!